Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The Graham County Sheriff’s Office responded to a possible fentanyl overdose death in late July.
By Jon Johnson
GRAHAM COUNTY – The Graham County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a possible opiate overdose death of a 30-year-old male that occurred in late July.
According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, on July 25, deputies and EMS were dispatched at about 6:45 p.m. to a residence regarding a suspected overdose.
Upon arrival, an officer took over chest compressions from an occupant of the residence, however, paramedics advised they had been working on the victim for about 15 minutes.
The victim was later declared deceased and was sent to Tucson for an autopsy with the Pima County Office of Medical Examiner. Autopsy results are still pending.
While at the residence, an occupant advised that some fentanyl pills were in a safe. The occupant then opened the safe and retrieved two blue, pills with “M30” printed on them. A pill cutter and seven additional pills were also found in the safe. The M30 pills have been circulating in Graham County for a while and are believed to be counterfeit fentanyl pills from Mexico.
While the deputy forwarded the case to prosecutors for review of possible charges to other occupants due to the possession of the pills, that may not be possible due to the Good Samaritan provision of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act.
Governor Doug Ducey previously signed the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act on Jan. 25, 2018, and it went into effect on April 26, 2018. While the 69-page act addresses many issues, including sober living homes, education for medical students, prescribing of opioids, and more, the act also created a Good Samaritan provision, which excludes those seeking medical help from prosecution for drugs or drug paraphernalia located by police at that time.
Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3423 deals with the prohibited prosecution of Good Samaritans. It states, “A person who, in good faith, seeks medical assistance for someone who is experiencing a drug-related overdose may not be charged or prosecuted for the possession or use of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia or a preparatory offense if the evidence for the violation was gained as a result of the person’s seeking medical assistance.”
Section B continues, “A person who experiences a drug-related overdose, who is in need of medical assistance and for whom medical assistance is sought pursuant to subsection A of this section may not be charged or prosecuted for the possession or use of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia if the evidence for the violation was gained as a result of the person’s overdose and need for medical assistance.”